Indian cinema took birth a hundred years ago when Dhundiraj Govind Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra was released in May 1913 at Mumbai’s (then Bombay) Coronation Theater. The film was a result of some painstaking efforts by Dadasaheb Phalke, due to which he acquired the title - Father of Indian Cinema. Now, almost a hundred years later, the magic of Phalke’s earliest films was recreated on the big screen recently at Mumbai’s National Center for Performing Arts (NCPA).
A group of audience that had gathered was bestowed with a memorable experience of watching Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra (1917), Kaliya Mardan (1919), Lanka Dahan (1917), Shri Krishna Janma (1918) and a documentary on him named Dream Takes Wings (1970). Composer Rahul Ranade’s background score was added to the films to make viewing more pleasurable for people of today’s era who aren’t used to watching silent films. The screening was made possible by the National Film Archives of India (NFAI) based in Pune. The event was a part of NCPA Flashback Series which is started to celebrate 100 years of Indian Cinema.
Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benagal, who was the guest of honor at the event, seemed pretty excited for the screenings. “It’s a pleasure to see Phalke’s films. His (Raja Harishchandra) was the first film to be made completely in India. So it is Phalke who is responsible for spreading cinema in India,” he said. Benegal also revealed how quickly cinema got acceptance in India. “After the introduction of sound (talkies), Indian cinema just took off as if it was invented here.”
By going back to the pre-independence time, Benegal also criticized the need for films to be censored. “British Government used to ban films that had nationalist sentiments. Unfortunately, even 66 years after independence, films are still censored, which, I think, is ridiculous in a democracy.”
Director of NFA Prashant Pathrabe shared some good news for the audience. He said screening of more of such classic films under NCPA Flashback Series would take place at the end of every month at NCPA for the next year. “We would love to take our association with NCPA forward,” he said.
Some of the films that would be shown in the upcoming NCPA Flashback Series include Sant Tukaram (Marathi, 1936), Sikandar (Hindi, 1941), Achhut Kanya (Hindi, 1936), Manthan (Hindi, 1976), Devdas (Bengali, 1935), Chandralekha (Tamil, 1948), etc.
So if you are lover of quality cinema, you know where you should be heading at the end of each month!
Direction: Luv Ranjan
Producers: Wide Frame Pictures
Writer: Luv Ranjan
Cast: Kartik Tiwari, Nushrat Bharucha
Music: Hitesh Sonic
Release Date: January 25, 2013
Star Value: As the lead actors of Akaash Vani Kartik Tiwari and Nushrat Bharucha are just one film old, there is no star value in the movie. However, the fact that the full team of the well appreciated Pyaar Ka Punchnama has returned can be considered its star value.
Hype: The promos of the movie have garnered a decent response, if not very good. The promotions and marketing hasn’t been bad. Overall, the hype and excitement for Akaash Vani is above average.
Music: The film has good, melodious numbers but apart from ‘Rumani’ no other song is much known to the masses. The music has a better chance if the film succeeds at the box-office.
Akaash Vani will get an average opening at the box office. Its chances rely more in the multiplexes of the metros. It will struggle in the single screens and smaller centers. The fact that it will be released alongside a hardcore commercial film like Race 2 will surely affect its business. Hence, it is vital for Akaash Vani to get very positive initial reports.
But one should also note that this is a kind of film which doesn’t rely on the collections of the first three days. If it manages to impress the audience initially, especially the youngsters, it can even pick up during the weekdays and the next weekend as there is no major release next week.
Producers: Tips Music Films and UTV Motion Pictures
Writers: Shiraz Ahmed and Kiran Kotrial
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Jacqueline Fernandez, Amisha Patel
Release Date: January 25, 2013
Star Value: With a host of well-known actors like Saif Ali Khan, John Abraham, Anil Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, the star value for Race 2 is obviously high.
Hype: The thrilling and exciting promos have gone well with the audience. The makers have also promoted and marketed the film well. So there is a good amount of hype for Race 2 but it is not as high as the makers would have expected.
Music: The songs ‘Allah Duhai’, ‘Party On My Mind’ and ‘Lat Lag Gayi’ have slowly become popular. The music of Race 2 has played a good role in popularizing the film.
Although not excellent, Race 2 will get a decent to good opening at the box office. Being a western or modern flick, it will fare well in the metros both in single screens and multiplexes, provided it gets good initial response, but its chances are doubtful in the smaller centers.
Although the film will face some mild opposition from Akaash Vani (also releasing on Jan 25), the big advantage it has is that there is no major release next week. However, it will struggle if it doesn’t manage to impress at the onset. And scoring Rs 100 crore, dream of every hardcore commercial product these days, looks doubtful for Race 2.
Director: Sudhir Mishra
Producers: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Tipping Point Films
Writers: Manoj Tyagi and Sudhir Mishra
Cast: Arjun Rampal, Chitrangada Singh, Deepti Naval, Vipin Sharma, Shivani Tanksale, Rehana Sultan
Music: Shantanu Moitra
Release Date: January 18, 2013
Star Value: Arjun Rampal and Chitrangada Singh are not superstars but they are famous enough to push a section of the audience to the theaters. The former has improved his acting skills in recent years while the latter has always given impressive performances.
Hype: The hype for Inkaar is quite good, although only among the urban population due to its subject. The promos have not only impressed the audience but also helped in creating a mystery as to who among the two characters is guilty.
Music: ‘Maula Tu Malik’ has become popular while the other songs, which are also impressive, might slowly find takers if the film becomes a hit.
Inkaar will get an average to decent opening at the box office. Due to the subject and the modern corporate world in which the story is based, it has a chance only in the multiplexes of the metros. It will struggle in single screens and smaller centers. It has only a week to earn as both Race 2 and Akaash Vani are hitting the screens next Friday. Hence, Inkaar has to impress at the onset else it will be difficult for it to succeed at the box office.
By Keyur Seta
(Taken from the website Halti Chitre.)
Pune 52 is one of the rare Marathi films to have released its first teaser around eight or nine months before the film’s release. Apart from this, the reason for it garnering excitement is due to the fact that it is the story of a detective; a concept not explored much in Marathi cinema. As the movie is finally nearing release after being postponed, the eagerness has only increased due to the actual trailers. Naturally, debutant filmmaker Nikhil Mahajan is keenly looking forward to the response. He gets talking about the actual genre of his movie and the inspiration behind it, among other things.
How would you describe Pune 52?
Pune 52 is a dramatic thriller. It’s a drama about urban relationships with a very subtle thriller undertone to it. The story is set in the 90’s about a private detective and the fall in his marriage due to another woman. It is set against the backdrop of financial reforms, how it changed the country and how the middle class was affected due to the reform policies. So it’s a personal story of this couple which is the representative of the society at that time.
How did the story idea originate?
I have a very close friend here in Pune whose uncle is a private detective. I met his uncle casually once and we ended up speaking a lot. He told me about his challenging, interesting profession. But what was more interesting was how it affected his personal life. This profession involves going against the law, meeting strange people, working at night and being in the shadow. It is not a very socially acceptable profession. There are multiple issues attached to it.
So I thought it would be very interesting to write a poignant drama about a detective. Hence, the story germinated and I slowly started adding layers to it. I worked on it for two years! The thrill element comes in naturally because of the profession. But the movie shouldn’t be mistaken for a thriller which a lot of people are doing. It is not a whodunit or a murder mystery. It’s a film which will get into your skin and make you uncomfortable. But it is not, not, not a conventional thriller!
Along with your film, Hou De Jarasa Ushir is also releasing on January 18. Don’t you think it can be risky for both the films?
No yaar I don’t think so. Both are different films. And when do you release a film? It’s always very crowded. BP (Balak Palak) released on January 4, this week it was Ajinkya, then our film and Hou De Jarasa Ushir are releasing on the 18th and after that, it is Aajcha Divas Majha. So some clash is bound to happen. Plus, Hou De Jarasa Ushir has a completely different genre from our film. So I don’t think both films will eat into each other’s business.
What is your background? How did you become a filmmaker?
I was studying to become an engineer. But I had this crazy passion for films since childhood. I started writing scripts for short films. Then I worked with Ram Gopal Varma’s production house. I assisted people there and even wrote with them. Nothing materialized but that fortified my idea of wanting to be a filmmaker.
Then I realized I need to be professionally trained and versed with the grammar of filmmaking. So I went to Australia and graduated in film direction from The International Film School in Sydney. After returning, I wrote Pune 52 while working as a writer with a company. I started hunting for a producer for my script. It’s been a long journey and struggle. It’s not at all been easy. I faced 40 rejections because of the content and the film not being conventional! Thankfully, I found producers and the film turned out very well.
Your film will also be released outside Maharashtra. How was this possible?
PVR Director’s Rare is a program by PVR Cinemas which releases path-breaking, independent cinema in as many screens as possible. Their idea is to support Indian independent cinema which normally doesn’t have the budget or capability to find a wide release. They might have heard about Pune 52 from those who saw it in MAMI Festival or somewhere else. Their director met me and said they will release the film outside Maharashtra on February 8.
Director: Tejas Vijay Deoskar
Producers: S K Production Films and Sandesh Films International
Writers: Tejas Vijay Deoskar
Cast: Sandeep Kulkarni, Kadambari Kadam, Sarika Nilatkar
Music: Susmit Limaye
Rating: * * *
Story Outline: For Basketball coach Anant Dharmadhikar (Sandeep Kulkarni), winning is everything. But his intense passion for Basketball and a sharp ego separate him not only from his wife Sai (Kadambari Kadam), who is highly successful in the corporate world, but also from the game itself. Amidst such dire consequences, will Anant find a ray of hope?
Review: Winning is the ultimate motto for any team playing whichever sport. But in the midst of winning all the time and maintaining the number one spot, we often forget to enjoy the game both on and off the field. With the use of a story of an egoistic coach, Tejas Vijay Deoskar succeeds in giving this message in Ajinkya in a heartwarming manner. Although the film doesn’t provide as much impact in few portions as needed, the realistic portrayal of the life of a coach and the simplicity make sure it’s worth watching.
The narration is intelligent in the first half. The main point of the story and the character definition of Anant is established right at the start. The way the background is narrated by using flashback in between deserves applause. There is realism induced in every situation which makes the audience feel for the characters. Anant’s interaction with his wife’s friend and his wife after separation deserve special mention. Even his struggle to keep himself away from Basketball is smartly shown without using dialogues, especially in the cupboard shifting scene.
It is the second half which stops the film from becoming superlative. From the start of this part till the climax, there isn’t any real conflict and unpredictability. The story and the message should have been exploited more to create a much bigger impact. It is also in this period that the pace drops a bit. But due to Anant’s subtle return to the game, his change in outlook and a moving climax, you leave the cinema hall with a smile.
In a film where a sport plays an important part, there is a danger of the makers getting carried away by it. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen here. The game of Basketball is used only as per the need. It is also shot in a manner which makes it appealing even to those who aren’t interested in the sport.
The film has received apt support from the cinematography and editing. Although the background music suits the need, there are a lot of portions where they have simply not used it at all! Music wise, ‘Theme of Ajinkya’ and ‘Jari Maza Tuza’ are the tracks that go well with the situations.
Performances are a big plus point. Sandeep Kulkarni perfectly gets into the skin of a tough coach and delivers a top notch performance. He shows his talent in the emotional scenes too. His act is largely responsible for making you feel for his character and the story. Kadambari Kadam is also thoroughly mature as his wife. Sarika Nilatkar provides perfect support while the rest of the actors play their part well.
Overall, Ajinkya doesn’t win by 25 points (as said in the film) but it wins nevertheless. Due to the average hype, it needs some terrific word-of-mouth to succeed at the box-office.
(Personal Note: Recently, me and my friend had the privilege of having a long conversation with a tennis coach. He revealed about his coaching techniques and how his profession has badly affected his personal life. Whatever he told us, matched exactly with Sandeep Kulkarni’s character and his situation in the movie.)
Direction: Vishal Bhardwaj
Producers: Fox Star Studios and Vishal Bhardwaj Pictures Pvt. Ltd
Writers: Vishal Bhardwaj and Abhishek Chaubey
Cast: Imran Khan, Anushka Sharma, Pankaj Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Aarya Babbar
Music: Vishal Bhardwaj
Genre: Comedy/ Drama
Release Date: January 11, 2013
Star Value: Imran Khan and Anushka Sharma are not big superstars but they are popular enough to pull a good section of the audience to the theaters, especially youngsters. Plus, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola also has legends of Indian cinema in the form of Pankaj Kapoor and Shabana Azmi.
Hype: The film has managed a decent hype before its release if not tremendous. The funny promos with unusual dialogues have made heads turn. Anushka's 'Dekho Magar Pyar Se' tattoo and 'Gulabi Bhains' have also largely helped.
Music: Although Bhardwaj is known to be a talented music director, the songs of this movie haven't become known. But the reason for this is that the makers haven't used the music much to promote the movie. The title song is the only one which is famous and appreciated.
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola will get a decent to good opening at the box office, although not excellent. Even if it gets a decent response, it will make the producers happy as it has good two weeks to earn. Since it is a rural film, it has a chance of earning even in smaller centers, provided it doesn't get initial negative response.